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empathy, sympathy and pity

I Don't Want Others To Pity Me

I read this blog post and it got me thinking. However it does occur to me there is a large difference between sympathy, empathy and pity.



Ironically although I raise awareness and I want people to understand my journey, in real life, I shy away from true empathy. That is a true emotional connection where someone actually understands your suffering. And I tend to becomes uncomfortable in those situations. For good reason. If they truly understand my suffering... then they understand how very fragile my coping is. How very difficult it is to manage this pain. How much I struggle. When really around people I care about I am all about appearing in control. Pretending I am not in as much pain as I am. On the surface at least. I may be honest about a situation if you ask me... but I will not be Emotional about it. So you may know about a situation I am in but never know my emotional involvement. That is just my nature. In a way, I am far more exposed on this blog, because I allow myself to be. I want myself to be.

I have come across Sympathy far more often. These are people I know generally or work with who do not understand pain very well but want to make some general remark to try and relate to my pain (yeah i sometimes hurt when it rains) or try and tell me how much my life must suck (I can't even imagine how it must be to be in pain All the time) or try to show some sort of sympathy for my general struggle which they do not even comprehend (I do not even understand how you live with the pain every day). Cause you do, I say. You just Do, when you have to. But sympathy doesn't bother me at all. Some people, yes, are very awkward at it because they don't know what to say or how to say it. But that is fine, they want to try. The fact it they are trying to relate to an experience they have never felt before, which happens to us All. And trying is what counts. So showing sympathy is never a bad thing.

The few times I have encountered pity on the other hand I had sort of different responses depending on the situation. When i was younger and I encountered it I used to just get angry. I would say I may not be able to do 'such and such' but I still am capable of being what I want to be. I can still do things when I moderate my activities. I just have to live in my limits. This is manageable not crippling. Later on in life pity feels like it wants to make me feel bad about myself. Like oh poor you you can't do anything you poor disabled girl! I mourn for all you could be but can't. No one has the right to pity this hard earned existence I live. It is a damned victory.

-Or maybe I just want it both ways. I want people to know what my life is like so they can understand the abnormal things I do. And I want them to see me as normal because I don't want our time together to be burdened with my crap. Perhaps this makes the most sense.I Don't Want Others To Pity Me

The fact is we do want people to understand us. It is human nature that we want to be understood. Pain makes us isolated unless we share it. But at the same time we want to be able to go out into the world occasionally, socialize occasionally and be a normal personal... without our illness being a 'thing'. So we do want both.

It is in fact possible. You just have to understand not everyone you meet needs the same level of knowledge and understanding about your health. Family: they are in for it all because they are closest to you. Freinds: give them the basics, the vague details and leave it at that... these are people you hang with to feel like a normal human being. Work peeps: be as vague as possible.
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